December Snows-2022

by Andy Dappen

December 3, 2022. It’s an unusually good early-December snowpack that currently coats the hills surrounding the greater Wenatchee Valley. In fact, as I skied up and down the Twin Peaks Road today, I concluded the hills have the best early-December coverage I can remember in over twenty years. Snowshoers wanting to walk snowed-over trails or cross-country skiers wanting to stride up snowed-over roads will find cold-snow conditions and beautiful views out there.

Keep in mind that a number of our local trail systems (e.g., Sage Hills, Horse Lake Reserve) are closed for the next four months to give mule deer a place to winter without the added stress and energy consumption of avoiding human visitors. Also, note that skiing off-road is presently pretty dicey — thinly covered rocks, stumps, logs, and brush may leave your gear (or your body) worse for wear. We need another foot of snow before the off-road conditions favor skis rather than snowshoes.

Some thoughts about local outings to consider right now:

· Snowshoe the trails around Saddle Rock (that are open to the public).

· Snowshoe or cross-country ski the main road leading to the top of the earthen dam at Dry Gulch (all other trails at Dry Gulch are closed during winter for mule deer over-wintering habitat).

· Snowshoe, hike or cross-country ski the Horse Lake Road. Note: All trails departing from Horse Lake Road into the Sage Hills or Horse Lake Preserve are closed throughout the winter to reduce the stress and energy consumption of deer that winter here. The trails reopen for human use on April 1.

· Snowshoe, ski, or walk the Twin Peaks Road. Note: Only the road leading to the summit of Twin Peaks is open in winter. All trails and slopes bordering the road are closed in winter to reduce the stress and energy consumption of deer that winter here.

· Snowshoe or cross-country ski the roads bordering Highway 97 on the way to Blewett Pass. Options here include the Five Mile Road and the roads around the Tronsen Meadows non-motorized area.

· Snowshoe or ski the roads of the new winter non-motorized area in the Lower Stemilt Basin.

Finally consider this bit of track etiquette when it comes to winter travel. Ski tracks heading up snowed-over roads are far less enjoyable to skiers once snowshoers or hikers have tromped over them. Rather than a smooth glide, the trough left in the wake of snowshoers and hikers is bumpy and uneven. Skiers will much-appreciate the snowshoer or hiker who doesn’t ruin the ski track and breaks a parallel trail in the snow upward. When the snow is deep (e.g., breaking more than a foot of new snow), this courtesy may not be practical. But if you’re only breaking 5 or 6 inches of new snow, why not be considerate of other winter users?

Leave It Better Than You found It. This should be every outdoor user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull noxious weeds along your route, disperse old fire rings, and throw branches over unwanted spur trails.

Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or not know all the issues affecting a route. You are completely responsible for yourself, your actions, and your safety. If you won’t accept that responsibility, you are prohibited from using our information.

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